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Building STEM Courses For a New Community of Coders

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Meet Kantwon Rogers, a GEM Fellow and an Innovation Content Development Engineer who spent his last three summers here at Intel. When he’s not at Intel, he is a student at Georgia Tech University where he is pursuing his Master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction. Today we meet with him to get insight on his experience at Intel working in our Future Skills Group in Corporate Affairs.

What was your path to an internship at Intel?

What helped me land my internship at Intel was my ability to network. When I saw that Intel would be attending a career fair at my school, I made it my goal to not just meet the campus relations manager, but to foster an ongoing relationship with him.

What are you working on now?

This summer I supported the Future Skills Group in Corporate Affairs creating coding and technology courses. These courses will be used by community job centers that expose 18 - 24 year old students to new technology, and equip them with skills to obtain jobs in technical areas.

That’s a project with a big potential impact on the community. How did you get started?

My role is content development. First I created an introduction to coding lesson that presented ideas on what coding and programming meant, and enabled the students to begin practicing code. All of the programs are centered on a certain type of technology, such as drones, 3D imaging, or a combination of the two. This is a 12 week course, and it’s filled with different learning activities. I use my engineering skills to develop an informative course that’ll inspire these students to pursue STEM careers.

How did you craft the courses to the learner’s unique needs?

What I think is cool about the program is that we are making the courses modular and customizable. The course is flexible - based on the location that you're in, you can customize each lesson to be relevant for each industry.

For example, many Las Vegas jobs are focused on the hotel industry, so we geared the drones and Internet of Things (IoT) courses to be applied to a hotel industry setting. There is already a pathway to jobs on the Las Vegas strip, but the idea is that you don't have to be a housekeeper.  Instead, the question is, what kind of technology can you create around IoT or drones for the hotel industry? What things are impactful in your community, and what happens when you think about them in a different way?

What really connected with you about this program?

Though I teach an introduction to computer science course at Georgia Tech, I quickly learned that traditional college students are a very different demographic than the students we are working with in this program. It's been an eye opening experience having to empathize with a new demographic. When it comes to college initiatives, a lot of programs have been geared toward the very privileged few. The students I have been working with have very different life experiences than me and it has really opened my eyes. Working on this project has been impactful to my views of education, and I am going to take these learnings back with me to influence my views of education as a whole.

What’s next for the Future Skills Program?

The courses I just created will be deployed in the next couple of weeks. We are working with a job center in North Las Vegas, NV and one in Los Angeles, CA. The goal is to expand the program nationwide to different job centers to inspire people from different backgrounds to pursue careers in STEM.

What else have you been up to this summer? 

I was able to participate in a kids’ make-a-thon. Employees’ kids came to Intel, and we taught them the basics of programming, and they were able to create their own Arduino-controlled project. They designed a laser-cut nameplate that had their names and other things they wanted on it, and they programmed LEDs that illuminated the acrylic.

What has been surprising to you?

My team has been absolutely fantastic in terms of not only trying to see what I could do for Intel, but trying to see what Intel can do for me. They arranged a meeting for me to meet with an Arizona State University professor to talk about research, and I met with other groups to talk about things that are interesting to me even though those topics weren't directly related to my work. Intel employees as a whole went out of their way to make sure I was happy and fulfilled in my internship.

What’s next for your education?

I am graduating with my Masters this year, but will apply to PhD programs next, and hopefully I can continue with GEM. If that happens, I plan on coming back to Intel again, and ideally I will continue working in the education space.

My internship experience has given me a new perspective on what’s possible, and flipped my thinking of “education” on its head. Being able to create educational experiences for a community of students, and knowing that someone may be inspired to pursue a job in technology because of our programs is exciting. I am looking forward to my next internship experience and possibly starting my career here at Intel.

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